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‘Tsunami’ of cases overwhelms health systems – Distancing imposed amid COVID tide

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 8, (Agencies): Kuwait’s Ministry of Health (MoH) registered Saturday 2,820 additional COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour span, increasing the total number of infections to 430,920, while two fatalities were recorded, raising the death toll to 2,471. There were 313 fresh recovery cases, increasing the total to 413,309 cured people so far, as recoveries represent 96 percent of the overall infections, MoH’s Spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad told KUNA. Active cases amounted to 15,140 with 12 of them in intensive care units, and 87 patients at hospital wards, he said. Health authorities conducted 30,862 swab tests to a total of 6,166,679, which meant that 9.1 percent of swab tests performed in 24 hours were infections, he revealed. Kuwait’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and Ministry of Justice have re-imposed coronavirus curbs due to the recent rapid surge in infections and emergence of the new and ultra-transmittable omicron variant.

In a press statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said it has issued and distributed a circular to all mosque officials instructing them to re-instate a set of virus preventive measures as of Friday, January 7. It clarified that worshipers have to observe distancing rules in mosques, wear facemasks, bring own prayer mats and avoid direct contacts. The ministry instructed mosque officials to keep mosque doors and windows open during sermons and prayer times. It also announced a time-cap of 15 minutes to Friday noon prayer’s sermon. In the same vein, the Ministry of Justice re-imposed social distancing rules during marriage contract-writing ceremonies as of Sunday, January 9. It ruled that only six people could attend such a ceremony.

Social distancing is maintained in mosques during the Friday prayers. Precautions are being taken as corona spreads once again in the country.

On Monday, the cabinet announced banning all kinds of public gatherings in closed places as of next Sunday until February 28 due to a spike in the number of infections in the country. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Health Council has declaimed efforts of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health during COVID- 19 fight. The Council, on its infographic account, acknowledged these efforts, pointing out the Kuwaiti staff was able to overcome huge obstacles by performing a number of stent insertion to dilate the thoracic aorta without open surgery. It added that a number of other delicate operations were successfully performed for children with cancer, such as stem cell transplant.

The World Health Organization said that a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases were tallied over the last week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept the planet, a 71% increase from the previous 7-day period that the U.N. health agency likened to a “tsunami.” However, the number of weekly recorded deaths declined. “Last week, the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reported so far in the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He said the WHO was certain that was an underestimate because of a backlog in testing around the year-end holidays. In its weekly report on the pandemic, the agency said the weekly count amounted to 9,520,488 new cases – with 41,178 deaths recorded last week compared to 44 680 in the week before that. WHO officials have long cited a lag between case counts and deaths, with changes in the death counts often trailing about two weeks behind the evolution of case counts. But they have also noted that for several reasons – including rising vaccination rates in some places, and signs that omicron affects the nose and throat more than the lungs — omicron has not appeared as deadly as the delta variant that preceded it. Any rise in hospitalizations or deaths in the wake of the latest surge in cases isn’t likely to show up for about two weeks.

While omicron seems less severe than delta, especially among people WHO have been vaccinated, the WHO chief cautioned: “It does not mean it should be categorized as mild. Just like previous variants, omicron is hospitalizing people, and it’s killing people.” “In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick that it is overwhelming health systems around the world,” the WHO chief told a regular news briefing. The WHO said the rises in case counts over the last week varied, doubling in the Americas region, but rising only 7% in Africa. The WHO emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said speculation that omicron might be the last variant of the outbreak was “wishful thinking” and cautioned: “There still is a lot of energy in this virus.” Added Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID- 19: “I think it’s very unlikely that omicron will be the last variant that you will hear us discussing.”

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